On April 18, a 71-year-old woman was in her home with her three granddaughters aged 19, 22 and 25. The home in KwaZulu-Natal province, north-east South Africa became a crime scene after a man broke in. Armed with a gun, the perpetrator locked the three younger women in a room. He then dragged the women out one at a time and raped them in front of their grandmother.
Unable to take the traumatic experience, the elderly woman collapsed. The attacker reportedly continued to sexually assault the women even after the elderly woman passed out. The man, who had his face covered with a balaclava, escaped after the attack. The elderly woman was later found to have died.
The younger women told the police that the assailant had not assaulted their grandmother. Speaking to TimesLIVE, the women’s uncle revealed that his mother died of a heart attack caused by the traumatic incident. He appealed to anyone with any information to come forward. Even though the police launched an investigation into the incident, there has not been much progress. No suspects have been identified. Nqobile Gwala, a police spokesperson, confirmed that the culprit has not been caught.
Gender-based violence is a major social issue in South Africa. In the KwaZulu-Natal province last year, there were 665 were women and 91 girls out of a total of 886 murder victims. The province is plagued with sexual offences and has seen a rise in frequency by 3.2% this year.
A primary health-care specialist at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Professor Mosa Moshabela, has proposed that gender-based violence can be tackled by addressing the concept of masculinity. Comparing the war against gender-based violence with the war against COVID-19, Moshabela emphasised the need for behavioural changes nationwide. He confirmed that he is working on a plan which can be executed on a provincial level to combat gender-based violence.